Tuesday, December 29, 2009

it's a jumble in there!

Do you ever feel like you've lost your spirit? Your spunk? For me, I think it was the day I went to the ER. (See previous post.) I had been on a roll, as things were moving along just fine. The crazy semester was coming to a fulfilling sense of closure and then WHAM!!

It's kind of like my bubble had been burst. Sure, I didn't like having three days of finals, even if it was working out in my favor. I would have been just fine having two on Tuesday and finishing then. As it was, Tuesday afternoon and evening afforded the opportunity to do some last minute studying, if one chose to do so. One didn't do as much as one could have, but this isn't about what could have or should have been.

This is about an overwhelming sense of, well I don't really want to say depression because it sounds too harsh, so I'll call it a case of the blahs. I mean come on, it's the holidays. I should innately feel joyful and filled with the Christmas spirit! Shouldn't I feel that way? I have, but only in brief spurts.

It doesn't help that I reminisce back to last year and succumb to sadness. My mom and dad came out for Christmas last year and I can remember being elated and eager to do all sorts of holiday-type things. I baked dozens of cookies, decorated, cleaned, etc. all in preparation of their arrival. This year it was just the guys and I. Saying "just" makes it seem like I wasn't pleased to spend time solely with my nuclear family, but I am. It's hard when you're surrounded by friends, neighbors and acquaintances that are surrounded by their family.

It doesn't help that I not only lost my rhythm with the ER visit, but was also devastated by the Blizzard of '09.

Yes, I truly dislike snow. It's only appropriate on Christmas Day and even then anything more than 2-3 inches is 1-2 inches more than enough.

Of course this record breaking storm had to happen the weekend Big B and I had planned our first holiday party. We were looking forward to it so much. He'd invited some co-workers he's befriended, and I'd invited my classmates and of course our friends. It was going to be a blast! We didn't plan for it to be a stuffy gathering by any means. We just wanted to celebrate the season and I was looking forward to celebrating the end of the semester with my classmates.

We were pummeled with two feet of the fluffy white stuff. It was ridiculous.

As it was LB and AW had slept over at friends' houses that Friday, when it started, and ended up snowed in with those families. Everyone knew it was coming by then, so no one minded having extra kids. The one family not only had LB, but another friend as well.

Anyway, the party was to be "adults only" so it would have been perfect if only the two feet of snow hadn't crippled the region. I mean the boys may or may not have spent the weekend with their friends' families anyway. It happens. I've had kids stay for whole weekends before.

One couple - of the approximately 30 or so people who were supposed to show up - showed up. They had somewhat of an ulterior motive. Their daughter is dating the boy who lives behind us. Once the snow happened they told her they weren't going to come to the party, and therefore weren't going to take her to her boyfriends house. Then cabin fever set in and they decided to make the trek. So the "party" wasn't a total wash, but it wasn't anywhere near what I'd expected. We did have fun just hanging out as Big B victimized us by "forcing" us to watch his newest obsession, The Hangover. Hilarious as the movie may be, movies aren't my idea of party entertainment. It was only the four of us though. We all laughed and had a good time.

I still can't shake the blahs. This morning I did awaken widely at the oddly early hour of 5 a.m. in a pretty good mood. It's odd because I am on break and should be sleeping at such hours! Yet, here I am blogging.

Last year, amidst my cleaning, I had done some seriously thorough cleaning and reorganizing in the house. This year, not so much. Yesterday I did tackle the mail-catch-all basket. I do plan to do a major overhaul of my bedroom and would like to repaint LB's room. There are two more weeks of break, so we shall see if I can get into the swing of things and let the promise of a new, exciting year ahead motivate me into some major action.

I suppose it would be a good idea to get out of the jumble that is in my head and stop the over-thinking. It's time to relax for gosh sakes!

Friday, December 18, 2009

it's been a gas

Friday, December 18th, 2009
How unbelievable it is that the time has flown by like it has since I last posted.

This has the potential to be a very long post.

I can't blame the time entirely for my lack of posting. It seems this semester nearly got the best of me, that and I've had a bit of a blogger's block. There's been a time or two that I've signed on intending to post, but have been left with nothing to say. That's partly due to the fact that those few times when I had a slight opportunity, I ended up riddled with guilt...shouldn't I be studying??

The semester ended officially for me yesterday when I went and took my last final exam. Our finals were scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I will get to why I didn't take my Wednesday final until Thursday a bit later. For now I'll go over some highlights of the past few months.

Our semester was split up into four week rotations for each clinical experience. The first week we had orientation, and the second week my group was split up and added to other groups since there was a lack of instructors/clinical opportunities for that week. The first day we weren't able to do anything because we didn't have access codes. This left us coming in late the second day, as they weren't going to have the codes until after 8 a.m. I was so very nervous that day, knowing we would start patient care. It intimidated me to no end.

The next two weeks my group were "orphaned" as it had come to be known when a certain group was not on a regular rotation, but would instead be placed into one day spurts of observation in a variety of different clinical areas. This happened because the opportunity at the other community hospital we were all supposed to go to fell through.

My group did get to go. The first day we spent at the long term care facility. We toured it and then ended up in the Alzheimer's unit playing balloon volleyball with some of the residents. We actually left around 10:30 a.m. because there was nothing left for us to do. It wasn't intended that we would do any patient care that day. The second day we actually went to the hospital side. I spent the morning in the ER, which I loved tremendously. I saw some really interesting cases.

The following week I went to a local surgery center, which I loved, and then for my second clinical day that week I went to the local wound care center...not much love was felt for that place. (Some of this is repetitive from previous posts, but I figure I'll just bring everything up-to-date, adding in more details with the more recent experiences.)

Next we went to one of our first regular rotations, a medical floor that has patients with cardiac, respiratory and other conditions warranting telemetry. Once again I was nervous those first couple of days. By the fourth week I was a little more comfortable. I'd taken care of patients with COPD, CHF, DM with exacerbations of other problems mainly related to neuropathies. The instructor was an incredible teacher. By the end of that rotation we all wanted a pocket version of her to carry on with us in our future endeavors. She offered encouragement, constructive criticism, and just an overall rewarding experience.

Our next rotation was spent on the medical/surgical floor. My first patient on that floor had a vertebral compression fracture, after a fall in her kitchen. I took care of her both days that week.

Monday, December 21st, 2009
And there you have it. I lost the oomph to post any longer in mid-paragraph.

Let's see if I can finish this up and then maybe I'll be able to post in the future without any problems.

All in all I had some good basic experiences during my two middle rotations. Our last rotation was the one I was most excited about. After working OBGYN back in my Air Force days I feel a ceratin draw to women's health.

My whole group was elated upon the start of our family birthing center rotation. Our first day I spoke up and told our instructor that I had been in on c-sections before so she assigned my four classmates to the two cases that were scheduled that morning. I went in on an induction. It was an easy, breezy day. The nurse I shadowed was awesome to work with. She taught well, and I was able to assist her with a couple of procedures. During one procedure I helped her with a newborn blood draw on a little guy that was having slight problems. The second day I spent with a younger nurse, who actually let me dive in and do some admission charting on our induction for that day.

I loved the mom from that day. She was terrified, and I found that to be a nice change from the mom who is all excited about giving birth and her new baby. This woman was in tears and I felt so bad for her. She wasn't incredibly young, and was not only absolutely terrified of needles, but of the whole experience. It was interesting to be a part of that dynamic. Because the hospital was having special visiting hours, due to H1N1 procedures, when normally there are no visiting hours, she had to receive special permission to have both her baby's daddy and her mom in with her. It was the first time I saw an epidural insertion, and I inserted her Foley. She startled with everything that was done to her. One could barely touch her without her panicking.

The following week was Thanksgiving week, so we didn't have clinicals.

The week after I saw my first (and only) vaginal delivery. I didn't only see it, I got to be right there in the thick of it. I helped mom breathe and I held back her right leg. I absolutely loved being in there. This mom was giving birth to her 6th baby and she came in as an induction with a history of precipitous deliveries. This one didn't go that quickly, but it went quickly enough for one of my classmates and I to be in on it. We were with her the next day as well as with another induction, of which we thought we just might see the delivery, but it didn't happen before we left. She was a primigravida, was progressing nicely, but just not nice enough for us to see it happen. The following Wednesday we missed because of "inclement" weather. That Thursday there was nothing going on so we left early and went to IHOP for brunch with our instructor. By this point none of us minded too terribly since finals were lurking in the near distance. One of the nurses who has taken on the role as one of the bereavement nurses did give us a little impromptu inservice on their bereavement procedures before we left. Although it's a depressing subject, I coudn't help but find it incredibly interesting.

As this semester came to an end I found myself wishing I'd had more experiences to learn from, but being in a small community hospital I was left with a decent amount considering.

This past week was finals week. A couple of my classmates and I got together a few times to study and prepare for what we thought would surely be our demise. We were extremely nervous for our exams, since the volume of material was horrendoues and we didn't have much to go on as far as focus. Monday was the OB/peds final and I got a B, and ended up with a B in the class. Tuesday was the health assessment final, on which I got a B and ended up with an A in the class. Yay me! So far the finals were good exams, surprisingly. They were fair and not as monstrous as we thought they'd be.

Then came Wednesday. Oh, the exam that day wasn't all that bad...from what I hear. I didn't end up getting to take it that day. Instead I took a trip to our local ER!

Prepare for some TMI...

I awakened at 2 a.m. to urinate, and then went back to bed. At this point I started passing gas, and decided to get up for what must be nature's need to expel waste. Nothing major, just your run-of-the-mill regular ole BM. Surprisingly, I am able go back to sleep. At 6 a.m. the alarm goes off and I start my morning routine. Each morning the girls are fed and then let out for their morning consitutionals. After that I make myself a cup of coffee and/or some sort of breakfast. I sit down at my computer where I check emails, Facebook, banking, etc. As I'm sitting there...here...I start getting this 10/10 type pain in my right side...forget quadrants...it's the whole right side pretty much. I decide maybe nature is calling again and sure enough I have diarrhea. I go back to sit down and am unable to sit. I've had this pain before and usually I just go lie down on my left side, on the couch for a few minutes and it goes away. The pain may return once during the same spell, but usually no more. By this point it's around 7 a.m., and the boys have left for school while I'm lying there on the couch.

I knew I had to get up and get going because I had my final at 9 a.m. for gosh sakes! I head upstairs, and only make it up to go lie down on my bed, once again on my left side. After a bit I'm better so I take a shower. I've tried calling my neighbor who lives across the street, to no avail, so I press on with readying myself for the end of my semester. Nope, no can do. Too much pain.

For me, my worst pain has been my attacks of cholecystitis, and giving birth naturally both times. These are my 10/10s. As the pain I am experiencing is right up there with those other pain experiences, and it won't go away, I know I am not going to be able to drive myself to school. It was all I could do to get my panties, sweatpants, and shirt on. I knew I had to clothe myself as I didn't want to be naked for anyone who was going to have to come help me. That's what it was coming down to. I had to get help.

We don't have a normal keylock on our front door. We have a keypad where you punch in a code that unlocks the deadbolt. So I know that I have to go downstairs and unlock it, and just be down there for my rescuer(s).

I hobble my way downstairs, unlock the door, and commence to lying on the couch. By now my neighbor has called me back and I ask if she can take me to the ER. I call Big B and tell him what's going on, amidst tears, and email him my neighbor's cell phone number on my BlackBerry. It seemed like a lifetime before my neighbor came over to get me, but by this point a friend of hers had shown up and they were going to take me in her car. This was a saving grace, because otherwise I would have had to sit up in my neighbor's Corvette. Instead I was able to lie on my left side in the back of my neighbor's friend's car as they sped me to the local hospital.

They get me signed in and have contacted Big B, who is on his way. I thank the neighbor and her friend and send them on their way. The nurse who took care of me started an IV line, drew labs, and gave me an IV push of Toradol. Of course by this point I am no longer having the 10/10 pain. It's more like 3/10. I'm more worried about my final exam that I'm about to miss and the fact that my semester is going to have to be prolonged. They take me back to radiology where two films of my abdomen are taken, and then they wheel me back to my room to wait.

One of my classmates, who has become a great friend, has taken her exam and called me by now and she comes for a visit. She stayed with me until Big B shows up, and then the fun really began. He has low tolerance for hospitals. Thank heavens for the diversion a TV can create.

I lie there awaiting any word from the doctor, and Big B finds People's Court to keep him busy. Finally the doctor comes in and informs me that my labs came back perfectly normal, but he did see a huge amount of gas in my large intestine. He said spasms from the gas caused the pains. By this point the nurse had come in and given me Senokot and Maaalox, so I knew it was going to have something to do with my digestive system. Surely a small bowel obstruction would be what was keeping me from the sheer feeling of joy and accomplishment that comes with the end of a college semester.

No, I had gas. I didn't take my final final exam regularly scheduled with my classmates because I had gas.

Some girls have all the luck!

As it turned out I was able to go Thursday morning, and complete my exam...and put an end to what was a very challenging semester. I really couldn't even tell you what I got on the exam, because by the time I checked that evening all I cared about was my final grade for the class...a B.

There you have it. My third semester of nursing school will always be remembered as ending with extreme pain caused by gas, as if it hadn't been a big enough pain in the butt already!